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by Shane Stokes
November 21, 2017
With Aru gone, Lopez to lead Astana’s GC hopes in 2018; Four months after being placed in an induced coma, Cretti back on a bike; Howard, Nordhaug leave Aqua Blue Sport one year early; Esteban Chaves’ younger brother Brayan signs with Michelton-Scott; Modified Mt. Buninyong course to be used for 2018 Australian Nationals road races; Garner Sisters continue with Wiggle High5 for another year; Pinarello debuts Nytro e-road bike; Alpen Storage Inc looking set to bring Bike Capsule to market mid-2018; Video: Chris Froome at NASCAR; Video: Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka bike distribution; Video Team Dimension Data Zwift Academy Final – Episode 1; Video: All you need to know about Artistic Cycling
Although all of the team’s riders signed a two year contract prior to the start of the 2017 season, Leigh Howard and Lars Petter Nordhaug are exiting the Aqua Blue Sport team twelve months earlier than anticipated. The Irish Pro Continental squad announced the news on Monday, saying that Howard is returning to the velodrome and Nordhaug is retiring.
“I am not leaving the sport indefinitely, but I have decided to step away from professional road racing in Europe and concentrate on track cycling, with eyes on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” said Howard, the previous winner of three world track championship gold medals. “This has been a difficult decision to make. However I feel that at this point of my career I need to put my focus into something I am truly passionate about.”
Although Howard had a strong 2016 with IAM Cycling, he had a quiet 2017. Ditto for Nordhaug, winner of the 2012 GP de Montréal and the 2015 Tour de Yorkshire. “2017 was a difficult year for me with the recurrence of a CMV virus which impacted my performance during the season,” he said.
“At 33 years of age I am proud to be able to look back on a long career as a professional cyclist, and to have played some small part in the success of Aqua Blue Sport in its first year. After some reflection I have decided that the best course of action for me and for Aqua Blue Sport is to depart the team.
“I firmly believe in this project and am not willing to risk the consequences of not being able to perform to my best in 2018. I would like to sincerely thank team owner Rick Delaney and all the Aqua Blue Sport backroom team for their support and understanding, and wish my teammates the best for the future.”